Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Dark Ages

We bought Francie and Fiver each a Webkinz for Christmas this year. It was what one might call a parenting misstep.

In all honesty, I think the money would have been better spent on a long, sharp, pointy stick with which to pierce my own eardrums. In order to drown out the sounds of my children's piteous weeping when all of the crap on the website won't load, of course.

I know it's my own fault for not being au currant enough to know that everyone in the world with high speed internet access already owns a Webkin, but I just thought they were little stuffed animals with a website you could occasionally visit.

Nope. It is, apparently, an empire of virtual pets with the goal of world domination. So far, they are doing pretty darn well.

Francie got a horse and Fiver got a raccoon, and thankfully they like them just as stuffed animals because it took us roughly three days to get into the website long enough to adopt the blessed things. Translated into real people time, that is approximately how long it would take to adopt an actual child.

Buoyed by our successful adoptions of Moey (raccoon) and Starlight (horse), the kids were eager to get into the Webkinz world and feed their pets, decorate their rooms, buy them shiny trinkets, and generally be all around indulgent parents. To animals. That don't really exist. Sheesh.

As I tried to get the website to load for the seventy-eighth time, Fiver sat beside me and cried. That always has such a calming effect on my nerves.

Even though the website's troubleshooters warned that sometimes it won't load due to the sheer volume of traffic, I sat and performed all my little computery tricks like clearing my cache, changing some settings, kicking the CPU, and mercilessly holding down the power button like I was putting a pillow over the computer's mouth.

Francie offered her own suggestions over my shoulder. Mom, what about the Escape button? Ctrl, Alt, Delete? Updating Adobe Acrobat? Too many cookies? Maybe we have a virus?

I turned around and looked at her like she had suddenly started speaking in tongues. When I was eight, cookies were for eating and the only virus I knew enough to talk about was the chicken pox. Which I got twice, so I was an expert in that field.

You know, I said as I tried to keep Fiver calm, we didn't even have a computer when I was your age. Actually, no one we knew had a computer when I was your age.

Since there came no response, I turned to look at her and saw her mouth hanging slightly open.

What do you mean you didn't have a computer?! Was that back when computers were first invented and they were as big as a whole room? Because we read about those days in computer class.

Um, no, I'm not that old, dear. But when I was a kid, there was no internet.


No internet?! Well, how did you do your school work? Like for reports and stuff? When I wanted to do my report on the South American river otter, we just Googled it. What did you do?

She was dumbfounded. I explained to her how I looked things up in encyclopedias (Ye Olde Funk and Wagnalls), or how I biked to the library and went to the reference section, after flipping through the card catalog. If I wanted to get really fancy, I would borrow my father's Smith-Corona and type up my report, but that was only after eighth grade. In fact, I took typing class on an actual typewriter, not on a computer keyboard.

She just stared at me, and then shook her head and said, I'm glad that we can stay home and look things up here. I just don't know how you did it, Mom.

So now I can also thank Webkinz for making look like a dinosaur to my children. If you'll excuse me, I have plans to take the children to the library reference section this afternoon.


  1. And to think I almost bought one of those for Princess. Yikes!!

  2. Kids are the best at making parents feel like outdated outcasts.

  3. Anonymous9:17 PM

    I'm only 31, but after reading this post I feel ancient! I learned to type- in highschool- on a typewriter :).

  4. just don't say I googled it for a report in front of the reference librarian... she might burst into tears :D

  5. I have one of those for Sweetpea but I have never mentioned that the tag contains a secret link. Now we have thankfully cut the tag off and disarded it so she will never know (insert evil laugh here).


Go ahead and say it. You know you want to.